It was an exciting day in my gardening life! As a Master Gardener and Montclair Public School volunteer, I’ve coordinated a number of beautification projects at our schools, most recently at Montclair High School (MHS). Recently, Sarah Vogel, a Montclair-based landscape designer and one of my MHS beautification partners, met Lisa Simms, Director of the non-profit N.J. Tree Foundation and her crew to plant five trees at MHS! As a recipient school of a Green Streets Cool Schools grant, MHS received five sizable trees that the N.J. Tree Foundation crew installed. Planting shrubs and perennials makes me happy. But planting trees? Planting trees thrills me, especially since we've lost so many Montclair trees to storms over the past few years.
Three of the MHS trees are elms, which are “trees for tomorrow.” We plant these slow-growing trees today knowing that their mature beauty (and shade) will fully benefit the next generation of MHS students and passers-by. Two elms were planted on the Midland Avenue side of the main building and a third on the grassy knoll to the right of the large theater on Park Street. In addition, two ornamental trees were planted near the Park Street entrance of the main building, to the left of the amphitheater. The ornamental trees, Stewartias, have lovely white blooms in the spring and gorgeous bark as they age. If you are walking by, please stop and take a closer look.
To my knowledge, this is the first time MHS has benefitted from a grant from the N.J. Tree Foundation, but not the first time a Montclair Public School has benefitted. In 2008, Lisa Simms and her planting crew, led by James Cunningham, rolled into town and helped us create Mt Hebron Middle School’s Habitat for Learning & Living – the beautifully landscaped front yard that is often used an outdoor classroom. The Habitat was designed by Margaret Tribble, a Montclair-based landscape designer and Mt Hebron graduate. As part of that grant the N.J. Tree Foundation crew helped Mt Hebron students and volunteers plant more than a dozen trees and many, many shrubs that have grown into the beautiful landscape you see now on Bellevue Avenue.
The N.J. Tree Foundation offers affordable tree planting and landscaping services; it's one way the Foundation funds its mission to plant trees in New Jersey. To learn more, please click here.